News 5/7/2010

Shurpit Convicted

5/07/10 – It took a Dodge County jury three hours yesterday to convict a Fox Lake man who sparked a seven-hour standoff with authorities last June. Ronald Shurpit was found guilty of three felony counts, including Battery to Law Enforcement and Intentionally Pointing a Firearm at an Officer. According to the criminal complaint, a Fox Lake officer attempted to serve a Washington County warrant on the 51-year-old for Failure to Pay Child Support in excess of $6000. That’s when authorities say Shurpit “forcibly tried to push a running law mower onto the legs and feet of the officers” at least three times. Shurpit wound up on his back but continued to kick at the officer. The officer tried unsuccessfully to use a Tazer gun during the struggle before spraying pepper spray, which also wound up in the officers eyes. Shurpit and the officers both wound up with weapons drawn but the officer refrained from shooting because there was a small child in the immediate area. Shurpit retreated into his residence, where he stayed for seven hours before walking out unarmed. Over 80 rounds of tear gas were launched into the residence during that time. Shurpit faces over 12 years in prison at sentencing. Bedker asked that sentencing be held within 90 days.

Shurpit Girlfriend Strikes Deal

Ronald Shurpit’s girlfriend entered into an agreement with prosecutors this week just as her jury trial was scheduled to begin. April Amond entered a “no contest” plea to reduced misdemeanor charges of Obstructing an Officer related to her role in the stand-off. During the altercation, Shurpit allegedly yelled at Amond (quote) “kill him, kill him, kill him.” The 42-year-old was holding a small child in her arms and threw something at the officer before retreating into the house and grabbing a small steak knife. Sentencing is set for June 4.

National Corrections Officer Week

5/7/10 – It’s National Correctional Officer and Employee Week. Since 1985, the first full week of May has been dedicated to recognizing the contributions made by correctional workers. Dodge County’s Deputy Jail Administrator Pat Ninmann says corrections officers and employees serve as counselors, teachers, chaplains, health care professionals, support staff, custody officers and supervisors. She says the public should be more aware of the huge part they play in the sheriffs department and the county as a whole. Ninmann says the corrections profession is one of the most challenging careers one can pursue, and one of the most noble. She says correctional employees continue to rise to the challenge time and time again and should be recognized and given thanks for their continued dedication. Ninmann says correctional officers and employees are in a position to offer offenders a better example, and a new path. And she says they do it with little awareness or acknowledgement from those on the outside.

BD Municipal Court Might Handle Minor Pot Offenses

5/7/10 – The Beaver Dam Common Council will consider an ordinance change at their next meeting that will allow the municipal court to handle minor marijuana possession citations. That power currently rests only with the circuit court but the Dodge County District Attorney’s office has told local authorities that the office will no longer prosecute first-time adult drug offenders caught with small quantities of marijuana, cocaine or prescription drugs. State statute does not allow local municipalities to prosecute for cocaine or prescription drugs possession, but it does allow for the prosecution of marijuana offenses. The first offense penalty could be as high as $1000, $2000 for the second, and subsequent offenses would be as high as $4000. Municipal Court Judge Ken Peters has said that he will prescribe the maximum penalty allowed under the ordinance to those caught with marijuana. The money collected would stay in the city. If payments are not received there is the threat of jail time. The council will vote on the ordinance on Monday, May 17. City officials, meanwhile, are working with the state to determine their options for prosecuting cocaine and prescription drug offenses.

High Speed Rail Spur IDed

5/7/10 – Wisconsin’s new high-speed passenger train will stop in downtown Madison – and not on the outskirts of town. Governor Jim Doyle announced yesterday that Madison’s Amtrak station would be near the Monona Terrace Convention Center. The exact site must still be chosen. The state had considered four possible sites for a Madison train station – and Monona Terrace is the closest to the State Capitol and the State Street shopping area. The other sites were at the Kohl Center on the U-W campus, the Yahara Station a couple miles northeast of downtown, and the Dane County Regional Airport on Madison’s northern out-skirts. The airport site got a lot of public discussion. Critics said it would discourage folks from using the train, because it would more convenient to drive. The state has already received $810 million in federal funds to construct a line between Milwaukee and Madison with stops in Watertown and Oconomowoc. An additional $12 million will be used to improve services between Chicago and Milwaukee. The Wisconsin State Journal said an 2001 environmental analysis indicated it would cost three-to-five-million dollars to build a rail station at Monona Terrace – and track improvements would cost 10-million-dollars more than if the train had gone to the airport.

Feingold Seeks To Tighten Federal Contracts

5/7/10 – U-S Senator Russ Feingold wants to tighten federal contracting procedures, after an Oconomowoc firm never got paid for work it did at Fort McCoy. The White Oak Farm was hired as a sub-contractor to destroy tree branches and other debris from the drills performed at the Army base near Sparta. But M-L-D-C of Idaho only paid White Oak 25-dollars, instead of the 116-thousand dollars it was supposed to receive. And according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, M-L-D-C founder Matt Ruck is a two-time felon who’s gotten millions in federal contracts – and he’s still getting contracts even after White Oak complained that it got stiffed. Feingold announced yesterday that he’ll introduce a bill to give congressional offices access to a federal contracting data-base so they can oversee the recipients of federal contracts. The bill also requires the reporting of legal problems that contractors have had in private sector deals. And a method would be created to follow companies even when they change their names or create new firms. Ruck refused comment on the bill or his company’s situation.

Columbus Pioneer Subscribers Day In Court

5/7/10 – Subscribers to the “Columbus Pioneer” are finally getting their day in court. The weekly newspaper only published six issues before it stopped printing in early 2009. Over one hundred readers had prepaid for one or two year subscriptions and received only the first few editions. Nearly 40 of those subscribers turned to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The readers filled out claim forms seeking return of their $32 or $60 dollar payments. Consumer Protection officials have now set a date for their case against the Pioneer publisher, Joe Morey. The State vs. Morey case will be heard at the Columbia County Courthouse in Portage on Tuesday, May 25th at 10:00 am. Subscriber organizers are hoping to fill the Branch 2 courtroom with readers who lost money when the newspaper ceased publishing. Pioneer subscribers who need more information on the Consumer Protection case can call Pam Duborg at (920) 623-5319.

BDPD Investigates Concession Stand Break-In

5/7/10 – The Beaver Dam Police Department is investigating a break-in on the high school campus. According to department records, the school notified authorities Wednesday afternoon that the concession stand at the varsity baseball field was entered. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Beaver Dam Police Department or the anonymous We-Tip hotline at 800-78-CRIME.

Traffic Crashes Up in April

5/7/10 – More people died in Wisconsin traffic crashes in April than in the same month a year ago. The D-O-T said 54 people were killed in 51 crashes throughout the Badger State last month. That’s nine more deaths than in April of 2009. And it’s three more than the average for the last five years. For the first four months of this year, 129 people were killed in Wisconsin crashes. That’s 10 fewer than last year. But the number of motorcycle deaths was up slightly at 16. Dennis Hughes, the D-O-T’s chief of safety programs, says motorcyclists will be encouraged to ride safer in May – which is Motorcycle Awareness and Safety Month. Hughes says car-and-truck drivers must also be on a bigger lookout for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.

Man Killed In Bizarre Accident IDed

5/7/10 – A man killed in a freak moving accident has been identified Matthew Fitzwater of Wausau. According to Marathon County sheriff’s deputies, the 33-year-old tried to carry a mattress and box spring yesterday on the top of a mini-van. He drove about a half-mile when the bed became untied – so another person drove while Fitzwater sat on top of the mattress to hold it down. But after another half-mile, a gust of wind blew Fitzwater and the bed items off the vehicle – and the victim hit the ground head-first. He died later at a Wausau hospital. The incident happened in the town of Rib Mountain. It was extremely windy in much of Wisconsin yesterday afternoon. The National Weather Service said Wausau had gusts up to 48-miles-an-hour. The 65-year-old driver was being cited for driving with a passenger who was riding illegally